March 31, 2012

Superman Saturday: You said you've been threatened by gangsters

After a two-week blogging hiatus, we return with the next instalment of Serial Saturday, and a new adventure for Superman—as well as a new introduction of a familiar name!

Rounding out the four core Daily Planet staffers, Jimmy Olsen makes his first appearance ever on The Adventures of Superman radio program, on April 15, 1940. He was introduced to the Superman comic book in issue #13, about six months later for a handful of appearances, and became a permanent fixture about a decade later after the character was again introduced on the Adventures of Superman television series, portrayed by Jack Larson. Eventually he was also given his own comic title, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, beginning in 1954. In addition to Jack Larson, Jimmy has also notably been played by Mark McClure in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and by Aaron Ashmore on the TV series Smallville.

Most often labeled a cub reporter or photographer, Jimmy is introduced in this series as a 14-year-old, "red-headed, freckle-faced copy boy." So, without further ado, sit back and enjoy "Donelli's Protection Racket" . . .

March 17, 2012

Superman Saturday: Burnin' down the house

It's Saturday night again. That means it's time to put on a good fire, grab your decoder rings, and gather around the old tabletop radio for another double feature of The Adventures of Superman.

The story so far: Clark Kent is investigating the disappearance of archaeologist and scientist Professor Beecham, with his daughter Elsie. They find him at the professor's rural retreat, Stone House, but not before they are attacked and Elsie is kidnapped by Little Brown Guys of the Aztlàn tribe. The professor has taken a sacred idol from the Aztlàn, a large emerald carved into a figure and inscribed with strange markings that he thinks hold the secret to eternal life.

Elsie escapes with he help of Beecham's manservant, who dies in the rescue, but then the Little Brown Guys blow the professor's safe, steal back the emerald, and make their escape in an autogyro . . .

March 16, 2012

33 > 40

Ivey Conerly and James White have released the much-anticipated follow-up to their previous collaboration, Why I Love Jesus but Reject Islam:

Forty Arabic words from the Quran, Sura 4:157, which claim Jesus' crucifixion never happened, are contrasted with the 33 Greek words of Galatians 2:20.

Well worth the wait, guys!

March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day

Yes, it's Pi Day once again: March 14. It's a weird day to commemorate—it doesn't lend itself well to cultural enrichment, like drinking beer or talking like a pirate. It just . . . is.

So I thought I'd just note the passing of the day by citing a random bit of mathematical trivia: Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, has a mathematical theorem named after her.

That is all. Three days to beer.

March 10, 2012

Superman Saturday: Don't want no short people 'round here

Welcome! This week we return to the Superman serial "Emerald of the Incas," which we began last week.

The story so far: At the personal request of assistant editor Jay Hamlin, Clark has driven Hamlin's family friend Elsie Beecham to the family estate, Stone House, to see if they can ascertain the whereabouts of her father, Dr. George Haven Beecham, who broke contact and vanished after returning from an archaeological expedition to South America. At Stone House, Clark and Elsie were attacked—first by guard dogs, then a dark-skinned giant. As Superman, Clark made short work of both before he and Elsie entered the house. While Elsie waited in the library, Clark discovered Dr. Beecham hiding in an upstairs room, just before they heard Elsie scream for help . . .

Episode 24: Emerald of the Incas, Part 3 (1940/04/05)


Clark and Beecham rush into the library but find Elsie gone, apparently escaping through a broken door—or being taken. There is no sign of her outside. Dr. Beecham calls for his half-native servant Zingrid, but he too seems to have disappeared. Beecham again accuses Clark of putting Elsie into danger by bringing her to Brentwood.

And, frankly, he's right.1 Elsie's sole function in this story so far is to be the designated screamer. She has been attacked by mastiffs, a giant black man, and assailants unknown who took her hostage, all because Hamlin and Clark decided she had to come along for the ride—and because Clark continually left her alone while he went to investigate something or other. It's not even her fault. She caught the Distress Ball early in the game, and she hasn't been able to pass it on yet.

Anyway, Clark Kent again becomes Superman and takes to the air to search for Elsie. Wondering if the giant man he fought in the previous episode was involved, he checks out the treetop where he left him. Sure enough, the giant is gone. Then, Superman spots a car and, suspecting the driver might have had something to do with the situation, swoops down and yanks the driver right out of the speeding vehicle. The last time Superman went searching for escaping suspects in a car, he mistook a police car for a getaway car. Apparently, he hasn't learned not to make these arbitrary decisions. In spite of that, though, Supe is right—the terrified driver was hired by two "little brown guys" to drive them to Stone House. The "funny business" going on there—meaning the drumming, dogs, and giant—gave him the creeps, so he left in a hurry. Superman takes him for a quick flight just to put the fear of, um, Superman into him. Then, back on the ground outside Stone House, he quickly changes back into his Clark Kent outfit and severely warns him that none of it ever happened. Elsie must have fumbled the Distress Ball on the way out, and the hapless driver caught the intercept.

March 03, 2012

Superman Saturday: Badder than ol' King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog

This week on Superman Saturday, we begin a new adventure. After the thrills of the mystery of Dyerville, the Man of Tomorrow has high expectations to meet. But we're sure he will rise to them, Faithful Reader: after all, this story involves strange goings-on! Savages! Treasure! And, last but not least, Science!

Listen on . . .

Episode 22: The Emerald of the Incas, Part 1 (1940/04/01)


As Kent is busy writing up a followup to the Dyerville story, he is called into the office of Jay Hamlin, assistant editor. He introduces Clark to Elsie Beecham, a family friend and the daughter of Dr. George Haven Beecham—"explorer, scientist, archaeologist," which is to say, a man of Science! Clark immediately turns on the charm.

Elsie tells them that something has happened to her father. He was supervising an archaeological dig in the South American jungle, but he sent her a strange letter warning her not to meet his boat when he sailed home. Then, she got a phone call from him, in which he sounded very frightened. He instructed her not to contact him; he would be staying in the town of Beechwood, at his Stone House estate, alone except for his "half-breed" servant Zingrid. The previous day, she finally tried to call him, but received no answer. Hamlin instructs Clark to drive Elsie out to Brentwood that evening—which Clark is only too willing to do, after having dinner with her, of course.